Every morning, we'll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: Well, this was unexpected
The Thunder and the Celtics didn't get the memo distributed after the first two games of the Conference Finals that they were dead and buried. A night after the Thunder won their third straight game to reach the brink of the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics did the same, and they did it the same way: a Game 5 win on the road.
I'd love to tell you the Celtics made some sound adjustments, played solid team ball, and ground out a win with definitive points at which it was clear they could, and would win. However, I can't. Because the Boston Celtics looked terrible throughout so much of this game that you could easily pick out a handful of moments, probably in the second half alone, where you thought "well, this is where Miami puts them away." One stands out, and it typifies this game.
With 6:43 left in the third quarter, Rajon Rondo had a horribly uncharacteristic dumb play where he forgot that he had crossed into the forecourt, took the pass, and casually tossed the ball into the back court. Miami hit a 3 off that turnover to go up seven AND Kevin Garnett came out of the game, which has been certain death for the Celtics. A Haslem bucket later, the Celtics were down nine and this was the end of the game.
Except the Celtic whipped off a 15-1 run, half of which was done with KG on the bench. I don't have the space to run down the rest of the crazy plays in this game so just know there were many more and most of them went Boston's way... as did the game... and maybe the series. It makes no sense. But as we know by now, nothing does in the NBA anymore.
2: What about Bosh?
Bosh was supposed to be an answer for Miami. He was supposed to be the guy who would run pick-and-rolls with Dwyane Wade to help create lanes for Wade to reach the rim. But instead of starting and running a lot of sets with the rest of his Big 3 brethren, Bosh played 14 minutes off the bench, and few of them against Kevin Garnett. Said Bosh after the game:
I definitely have more to give, and I'll be there. I just tried to be a good teammate for the guys that were out there. But as far as physically feeling, I felt good. It was good to really be back out there. And when the time comes again, I'll definitely be ready to play more than I played tonight.
So if he felt that good, why wasn't he playing when it mattered most?
I didn't think it would necessarily be fair to him to throw him in with three minutes to go. But I thought he gave us good minutes. I think that's something we can build on.
With the Heat a game away from being eliminated, I'm not sure this is the time to build on things. I think now's the time to go win something. Miami's approach with Bosh is confusing... which, I guess, fits the M.O. of this series nicely.
Wade with the huge block... but it works out better for Boston in the end
Paul Pierce with the dagger 3 right in LeBron's face
Kevin Garnett has some spring in those old legs of his
4: Line of the Night: Kevin Garnett - 26 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal
I cannot stress to you how bad Kevin Garnett looked six months ago. He was done. Finished. His career was over.
But then he got back into shape. Doc will tell everyone that listens that the team's early struggles were due to a lack of conditioning because players like Garnett thought the season was lost after the union decertified. Once KG got into shape, and once he shifted to center, he has been a beast. He's 36 years-old and a 17-year NBA veteran, and in 13 of his 18 games this postseason, he's put up a double-double. Last night was his 9th 20/10 game of the playoffs. He has 7 the entire regular season.
He is, as they say, on fire. Still. After all these years.
5: You can quote me on that
Honestly, they believe they can win, and we just got to keep hanging in there. I told them, we've done nothing. We're playing a heck of a basketball team. So just because we're going to Boston, I told them, we have to play. They're not going to give it to us. We have to go get it
Yesterday I got a text from Shaq telling me keep believing and keep playing. So that's what I did. And when Rondo took that rebound and kicked it out to me, I knew I had to take the shot and make it. So that's what I did.
-Mickael Pietrus, on his 3-pointer after the Dwyane Wade block
It's a loss, and that's all it is. And that's what our focus is right now, is to fight any kind of noise from the outside or any human condition, and to collectively come together strong to prepare for the next game.
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